Sep. 30th, 1935
Gilmer, Texas, USA
5' 7 1/2"
Johnny Mathis' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles
He was the fourth of seven children born to Clement and Mildred Mathis. His father performed briefly in vaudeville and exposed all of the Mathis siblings to music. Before he entered his teens, young John received vocal lessons from Connie Cox in exchange for performing chores around her home. When he entered San Francisco State College he originally had planned to become a physical education instructor. At San Francisco State he broke classmate and basketball great Bill Russell (I)'s high jump record. While in college he began performing at a small local bar called The International Settlement, where he met performers Maya Angelou and Joan Weldon. Later performances at a club called The Blackhawk caught the attention of Columbia Records producer George Avakian. When Avakian called for Mathis to make his first recording, the young singer and then college track star had to make a unique decision: whether to record or to tryout for the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne, Australia. He chose to make his first single "Wonderful, Wonderful". To date he has recorded over 100 albums with sales in excess of 180.0 million. More than 60 of his albums have been certified gold and/or platinum. "Johnny's Greatest Hits" (1958) remained on Billboard's pop album charts for 490 weeks. "Heavenly" remained on the pop charts for 295 weeks. An avid golfer and gourmet cook, Mathis continues to record and perform at the world's most prestigious venues and has earned a permanent place in American music history.
- As of 2004, he has had the longest stay of any popular artist with Columbia Records to date, having recorded for them almost exclusively since 1956.
- One of the most financially ingenious artists in the recording industry, Mathis has full responsibility and creative control of the production of his recordings through Jon Mat Records, Inc. where he chooses his own songs, producers, etc. while Columbia Records remains responsible for distribution.
- Just two years after his first recordings, his 1958 record album "Johnny's Greatest Hits" (Columbia Records) started the "Greatest Hits" trend for recording artists and record companies; every record company thereafter began to release "Greatest Hits" albums for their recording artists.
- Was a featured vocalist on the Grammy nominated (2004 awards) album "XXL" by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Composer-arranger-pianist-saxophonist-band leader 'Gordon Goodwin' (qv) has remained a longtime friend of Mathis and was once his former pianist.
- Won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award on 23 February 2003.
- Referenced in the song 'The Call of the Wild (Merengue)' by 'David Byrne (I)' (qv) on his 1989 album, 'Rei Momo'.
- Mathis has had a string of hits, all on Columbia records, stretching from the 1950s through the 1980s and beyond. Hit singles include "It's Not For Me to Say," "Chances Are," "Wonderful! Wonderful!," "A Certain Smile," "Misty," "Gina," "What Will Mary Say?," and "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (Duet with Denise Williams). Hit albums include "Wonderful! Wonderful!," "Open Fire, Two Guitars," "Johnny's Greatest Hits," "Heavenly," "Faithfully," "Warm," "Merry Christmas," and "Up, Up, and Away."
- Early in his career, his then manager Helen Noga attempted to develop a feature film about the life of Black/Peruvian Indian saint Martin de Porres with Mathis portraying the Afro-Peruvian title role. This project, however, never reached fruition.
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